SAP’s Major Update to Hana Database Includes Free Version

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  • German software maker’s Hana 2 includes AI, geospatial tools
  • Free developer edition can also be moved to production apps

Business software maker SAP SE introduced the most significant update to its database software in five years, including new tools for analyzing streams of data created by smart sensors and a lightweight free version for developers to test.

Hana 2, the second major release of SAP’s main database software since its wide release in 2011, includes tools for analyzing and predicting machine and geographic data and becomes available to customers Nov. 30. SAP is also making the software more accessible to developers through new pricing as it seeks to gain share against Oracle Corp. and other rivals.

The Walldorf, Germany-based company is counting on businesses needing to analyze the increasing volume of data coming from factory machines, vehicles and farms, and is spending 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) through 2021 to support its efforts there. And while SAP is gaining share in the database market, it still accounts for a fraction of the sector’s sales.

Hana lets businesses analyze transactional data while it resides in fast computer memory, without loading it into a separate data warehouse, in principle saving cost and time. Since the software’s debut, competitors Oracle and Microsoft Corp. have added so-called in-memory computing features to their databases, which have greater market share than SAP’s.

To fight back, SAP is courting software developers, whose adoption helps seed tools inside large companies. With Hana 2, SAP is making available a free "express edition". Programmers can run the software on their own laptops, then have their company move the database to a support software that faces customers, said Irfan Khan, a chief technology officer at SAP.

The company is also letting developers program Hana with a wider variety of computer languages, he said.

SAP had a little more than 7 percent of the relational database market last year, about half of which was Hana, according to IDC analyst Carl Olofson. Oracle had nearly 44 percent of the market and Microsoft a little more than 21 percent. In 2010 SAP acquired database marker Sybase, which is included in its share.

IDC has forecast the market will reach $41 billion by 2019.

SAP, the top seller of business applications software for production and financial planning and other operational tasks, is managing a multi-year transition to cloud-delivered software while trying to protect revenue growth of its core software installed on customers’ machines. The Hana database is needed to run SAP’s latest S/4 Hana applications suite, which now has 4,100 customers.

Shares of SAP, which have gained 7 percent this year, were down less than 1 percent to 78.18 euros at 11:23 a.m. in Frankfurt.